By Adam Grobman
For more than twenty years, Open Stage Theatre has brought The Diary of Anne Frank to Central PA stages.
That tradition was interrupted in 2020 by COVID-19, when the troupe was forced to record the performance to be able to share it with area schools.
“They were at the final point of dress rehearsal in 2020 when the shutdown happened,” says Jessica Yahner, Director of Development for Open Stage. “Typically, several thousand students would come in to see the performance over the course of several days.”
This year, the company brought back its staged reading of The Diary of Anne Frank, with a performance held on March 17th. That performance also marked the opening of a photo exhibit, Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album, which is open to the public now through April 9th each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 4-7pm. Admission is free.
“These are personal photos that were taken by Otto (Anne’s father) of their family in all the years preceding the events of the diaries,” Jessica says. “It’s a very emotional, moving experience to see all of the ordinary life moments and how much they parallel the moments that many people experience – knowing the end of their story as you’re looking at their beginning is extremely emotional and humanizing.”
The exhibit comes from The Anne Frank Center, with promotional materials describing Otto’s photos as “revealing nothing of the horrors that his family will soon endure, Mr. Frank’s photos highlight the peaceful times that were tragically cut short.”
Also coming to Open Stage this year is The Anne Frank Center’s Letters From Anne and Martin, an original adaptation that explores the experiences of Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr (drawing from King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail). The one-night-only performance will be held on Saturday, April 9th at 2pm, and is described as “a dramatic presentation of parallel worlds and kindred spirits in our history.”
Jessica says that stories of humanity, like Anne Frank’s, are central to the work of Open Stage.
“It’s an incredibly important story and people need to hear it,” she says. “Part of our work as artists is to create spaces for people to see difficult things and process them in a way that they can carry the lesson, positivity, and strength from those stories into their own lives.”
For more information on these programs, visit openstagehbg.com.